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Bullets peppered the big screen of the Teatro de la Noche. Screams rang out around me, and I dropped to the floor, pulling my cousin Chandra down with me. Tension ached in my shoulders, and my heart pounded in my chest like a trapped animal, desperate to escape.
Gunpowder stung my sensitive nose, but through the overpowering scent, I caught a whiff of a hunter heading our way. “Chandra, we have to move.”
If Chandra and I didn’t get out of here we’d end up dead—or worse, test subjects for the Cazador—human hunters ordered to scour the land of nocturnes by the plutocratic government.
“How? They’re all around us.” Chandra peeked over the seats before dropping back down beside me. “A few of them are chasing down those who ran from the first assault, but two more are heading straight for us.” She ran a manicured hand through her honey-brown hair, which was only a shade darker than my own. “Come on. I have a plan. Let’s try to sneak out the side door.” She crawled in the opposite direction, down the row of seats.
The sight of my cousin’s butt cheeks hanging out of her short skirt filled my vision; some things were better left unseen. I lowered my gaze, particularly since Chandra had forgone panties. She almost always held herself with an air of power and purpose. Perhaps that’s what it took to get attention from other werewolves. Chandra got it in heaps, but her lower social status stopped a lot of relationships.
While it was a horrible time to second-guess my modest fashion sense, I couldn’t help wonder if I should take a lesson from my cousin. My own blouse and dark blue jeans had much less pizzazz. But I doubted my father would allow me to dress like Chandra; we had a privileged image to uphold.
I bit my lip, struggling to turn my thoughts back to the problem at hand. This was all too much. How could we get out of here unscathed when the roar of gunfire continued to close in?
We reached the end of the aisle. Chandra moved to glance over the seat, when a shout came from the opposite end, startling us both.
“Run, Chandra!” I barely kept my voice to a whisper.
She sprinted toward the bright red exit sign at the front of the theater, and I chased after her, trying to keep my pace natural though her long legs made it challenging. Maybe if they suspected we weren’t nocturnes, they’d leave us alone.
The stomping of heavy boots on the theater’s plush carpets said otherwise. Then again, they weren’t opposed to taking their fellow humans down too. The very rich in power thrived on oppressing those less fortunate. What better way to keep the populace down than to have their thugs strike whenever possible.
“We should split up.” Chandra shoved a heavy trashcan in front of the door, but that wouldn’t be much of an obstacle to the pseudo-military bastards.
“What?” I couldn’t believe my ears. “No way. If we do that, we’ll—” The trashcan scraped the cement as the hunters tried to open the door. Maybe she was right. If we were together, there was a better chance of them catching us both. Alone, we might survive the night.
I nodded to her, and we took off in opposite directions down the alleyway behind the Teatro. The door slammed open, smacking the wall hard, as I turned the corner and headed toward the main street. I had to find somewhere to hide out before the hunters spotted me again.
In front of me, another group of Cazador chased a few werewolves down the main road. I slowed to keep my distance from them, but if I didn’t get somewhere fast, they were going to catch me. Ugh. As much as I loved getting out of the house and going to the movies, I wished I’d listened to my instincts tonight and stayed home.
Two sets of feet pounded the sidewalk behind me. Perhaps they’d spotted me before I reached the corner.
I picked up speed a little, pumping my arms as I struggled to keep to a human speed while staying out of range. The temptation to race through the streets nearly drove me to action, but I glanced back, seeing my pursuers for the first time.
One of the men had greying hair and a rounded belly, which explained the slower, heavier footfalls, while the other guy appeared younger and super-athletic. No wonder I was having trouble getting away. If he hadn’t been so scary, he might’ve been attractive. Pure masculine aggression raged through him, tensing his shoulders as his gaze focused solely on me, his prize. Each man carried a large-caliber handgun. I was just glad they were too busy running to try to shoot me…for now, at least.
My sandal hit an uneven patch of concrete in the sidewalk. My body lurched forward, but I caught myself before I could go down. I should’ve been paying more attention to the street. Up ahead on the opposite side of the road, I spotted a dark alleyway running alongside a row house. If I cut through, I could safely turn up the speed without exposing myself, and lose them.
The older hunter slowed; his breathing had become increasingly labored. He cocked his revolver’s hammer, and I darted across the empty road, making a beeline for the alley. The last thing I wanted tonight was to see Dr. Matthews. Just a little bit farther. A bullet smacked the ground at my feet, hitting me with fragments of pavement. I bit back a yelp, not wanting to give them the satisfaction of knowing my fear.
“I got this one, old kook,” the younger hunter grumbled, and his footsteps slowed too.
Another gunshot pierced the hazy night air. White-hot pain rocked my shoulder, nearly toppling me to the ground. I screamed, unable to hold it in, and picked up speed, no longer caring if I appeared human or not. The faint creak of a door barely registered before a pair of arms wrapped around my waist, jerking me inside the dark row house.
My rescuer softly shut the door, careful not to make a sound, and shoved a hand over my mouth. “Sshhh,” he whispered. “I won’t hurt you. You’re safe.” His voice was deep, with an English accent. He pulled me away from the door and hunched down in the darkened room, holding me close, waiting and listening.
Agony clouded my thoughts, but I couldn’t let myself lose focus.
Footsteps thundered through the side alley. I stiffened at the sound. The hunters’ harsh voices and the clanking of metal were the only differences between them and a herd of cattle. They made no attempt to disguise themselves, taking delight in the fear they provoked. The Cazador weren’t true predators, but they held power over their fellow humans and the weaker of the nocturnes.
I stayed silent in my mysterious savior’s arms. Thoughts of my cousin Chandra sparked inside my mind. She was still out there. What if the Cazador found her and killed her as they’d tried to kill me?
This man had saved my life. I needed to do the same for my kin.
His large hand flexed slightly, crushing my mouth. I placed my hand against his wrist, hoping he’d release me, since I no longer heard the disgusting Cazador who hunted me like an animal. How had I gotten myself into this mess?
Shifting my weight, I groaned as my shoulder brushed against his smooth chest, my arm hanging limply by my side. The bullet must be impairing my movement. I doubted even shifting into wolf form would fix this right now. What was I supposed to do? Not even my people were immune to blood loss.
The scent of death crept into my nostrils, which could only mean one thing: my savior was a vampire. In this weakened state, he could easily end my life, and I wouldn’t be able to stop him.
But why would he save me? Maybe he required his next meal. An icy shiver slithered down the length of my spine. For the first time, I felt real fear.
If only I’d insisted on returning home from the Teatro sooner instead of catching the night’s second movie, we wouldn’t have been there for the raid. Already my energy waned due to the rocky power of the three raging moons. The added exertion of running from the Cazador and getting shot strained my body even more.
Somehow, the Cazador had known nocturnes frequented the Teatro. Who would give that kind of information away? Wolves wanted the same pleasures in life that humans desired.
My savior readjusted his grip on me, brushing against my upper back. I swallowed a scream, unwilling to alert anyone who might be listening outside this man’s home. This vampire’s home. Clenching my teeth, I pulled at the vampire’s wrist. I would not be his victim.
He remained steadfast, proving my weakness. “Don’t scream. Don’t run. Don’t do anything that would force me to hurt you, because I’ve had a lot of practice.” His crisp voice caressed my ear, and his breath moved tendrils of light brown hair, tickling the flesh on my neck. “Do you understand?”
While he meant the words as a threat, I couldn’t help the way my body responded to his intensity. I nodded, forcing my thoughts back into place. If he attacked, I needed to remember my Militia training.
The vampire released me, but he stayed still, as if waiting for my next move.
Slowly and carefully, I scooted away and turned to face him. My eyes had gradually adjusted to the darkness, allowing me to see more clearly in the dimly lit room than a human would. What a sight he was. I brushed my fingertips over my sore lips.
Crouching in the shadows, he wore a navy-blue dress shirt with the buttons undone to show off his pale, sculpted chest, and dark jeans that snugly fit his long legs. I’d only seen a few vampires, and none of them had looked this exquisite.
My eyes widened as he ran a hand through his shoulder-length black hair. His gaze had dropped to my lips, and I lowered my hand. Hunger burned in his deep blue eyes; I prayed it wasn’t bloodlust.
What was I thinking? Our species didn’t see eye to eye on anything except survival. The Feud between vampires and werewolves had raged on for centuries now, since well before bickering humans shot the moon with a nuke after a resource dispute and nearly killed the world’s population. Little did my ancestors know just how much and how fast the world would change. Instead of bridging the gap, vamps and wolves had grown even further apart. No one remembered what or whom first started the divide, but neither race spent any effort on diplomatic relations.
Kill or be killed.
I took a deep breath and sat a little straighter. With space between us, my fear lessened. The Militia had taught me to defend myself against hunters and other nocturnes. They made sure I wouldn’t be easy prey for the enemy. Of course—they preferred to have my womb protected, since it ensured our race would live on.
Bitterness soured my taste buds, and the urge to spit overwhelmed me.
Admittedly, vampires were the hardest foes to defeat, and I couldn’t practice my skills much these days. Not with Father keeping me almost literally a prisoner in my own home.
But if I had to fight this vampire, I would go out having inflicted a lot of pain.
“Why did you help me?” I asked, keeping my gaze on the wall near his head. No way would I look into his eyes. While I was strong, I wasn’t stupid. His kind could easily manipulate, and I had no idea what he had in mind.
“I think it was your caramel-brown eyes, love.” He leaned into my line of sight, but I looked away. Instead, he closed the space between us in a heartbeat and gently stroked his index finger along my jaw.
The sudden intrusion on my personal space had me jerking away, but with my back so close to the wall, I had nowhere to run. “How could it have been my eyes?” I crossed my good arm under my breasts, but that drew his attention down to my chest. Not what I’d intended. “I’m sure you couldn’t have seen them while I was running from the hunters.”
With a sensual swipe of his tongue, he licked his lips. His gaze lifted to meet mine, but I quickly averted my eyes. “You caught me.”
I’d love to know your thoughts on the excerpt!
Until next week,
This topic recently came up as a prompt during the February Instagram challenge I participated in. The first place I went was to my blog archives to see what I’d said about this before. Turns out the last time I’d written about it was almost eight years ago. Not surprisingly, my thoughts have changed a little.
So, here we go!
Writing sex is an interesting subject to me since it’s one I’ve struggled with throughout the years. My first novel was a sweet contemporary romance, so I skipped the sex altogether. The pressure of writing sex intimidated me. Plus, the book’s content was pretty sweet, so sex didn’t feel necessary. I’d also written a novella with sex in it (Jungle Heat), so I was good with writing it. It had a mainstream heat, not too hot and not too sweet.
My first publisher specialized in erotic romance, so the heat level needed to be ramped up. Sex scenes needed to be plentiful. Needing to write so many caused me to majorly burn out on them. That’s why the Cry Wolf series and Beneath the Broken Moon doesn’t have as much sex as some of my books.
After the hiatus I took this past year, the charred bits have begun to flake off. Along with my passion to write, I’m beginning to enjoy writing sex again. Hooray for small victories!
One thing that hasn’t changed for me is needing to be in a certain mindset to write sex. I used to try to muscle through them because they were next, and I’m not crazy about writing scenes out of order. However, I’ve found that if I try to just write them regardless, they need a lot of editing. If the scene doesn’t excite you, chances are it won’t excite the reader either.
What I do with love scenes sometimes is type **insert sex scene here** and move on. The scene will be there when I’m ready, even if that happens to be during the editing process.
A funny story is one time I turned in a book to my editor with **insert sex scene here** still in. I was really tired, and my eyes must have glazed over it. My editor was confused, but I wrote the scene and turned it in for her to look it over. After that, I try to be more careful!
Until next week,
History has always been one of my favorite topics.
In college, I started out as a double major in English: Creative Writing and History with an emphasis on European History. That didn’t end up happening since I was so ready to be done with school. Knowing how helpful the time I’ve spent learning from Romance Writers of America and the internet has been, I wish I’d gone with the History major instead.
But I digress.
I’ve always loved historical romance novels and historical fiction. At one point, I didn’t feel comfortable writing them and the level of research that go into something like that. They still do intimidate me, even though I’ve written a fantasy romance series set in medieval Ireland, a Wild West paranormal romance novella, and co-wrote an urban fantasy romance that takes place in an alternate reality Ireland.
Regardless, I sincerely admire authors who write them. I’ve accepted that paranormal romance and urban fantasy placed in contemporary times is more my forte.
My favorite historical time period and location is Dark Ages and Medieval Europe, particularly in Scandinavia (Vikings!) and the UK and Ireland. So many fascinating things happened, and I love reading about mythology. When my husband and I have traveled, we always try to hit the museums.
There’s also ancient Greece and Rome. I’ve read a couple of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s books that incorporate that time period, which were really cool.
I’m very passionate about history. Surprisingly, it’s been a while since I’ve read a historical romance or fiction. That genre is on my TBR list this year, though, since I’m challenging myself to read wide.
What are your favorite time periods to read about? Do you have favorite time periods you don’t feel are represented enough in fiction?
Leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think!
Until next week,
It’s almost Valentine’s Day! I hope you have an amazing February 14th whether it’s with a loved one or by simply treating yourself.
For a limited time, The Assassin’s Mark is currently marked down to 99¢ from it’s usual $2.99 price. Be sure to grab your copy by February 16th! The sale lasts only lasts until Saturday evening, and this book won’t be marked down again anytime soon.
Since the end of last year, I’ve thought more about this topic than I have for a while. What’s my mission as a writer?
As an entrepreneur, I have a business plan with my long term goals and what I’d like to accomplish. That’s a different cap than a writer’s mission though.
The pull for me to become a writer comes from my childhood. I used to escape into books and let reality take a back seat, even if it was for a little while. Exploring a world that I might never get to see, all through the pages of a book.
For the first time in a while, that’s happened to me again. I fell face first into a book that started out a little slowly, but now that it has sank its claws into me, all I can think about is getting back to it! I’m relieved it’s the first book in a series because the book is almost over, and yet, I don’t want it to end.
That’s something I crave to create for my own readers. To entertain them and whisk them away to make believe worlds too. To let the book sink its claws (or fangs) into them and not let go. To keep them thinking about it until it’s over.
It’s a great time to reflect on that mission. I’m truly grateful to everyone who has read my books. Hearing from people that they love them is humbling (and blows my mind).
Until next week,
I’m excited to announce that I’m going to be releasing the complete first season of Beneath the Broken Moon in March. If you’ve read all five parts currently available, then you’ll have read this book. It’ll be available in both ebook and paperback.
Blurb: Carmela she struggles to choose between the alpha werewolf she’s destined for and the vampire she’s enchanted by, but the wrong decision could lead to deadly consequences…
Werewolf relationships are all about influence and offspring, especially as the species is becoming extinct. Carmela Santiago resents that type of life. She dreams of falling in love and being happy, not following the dismal example her parents have set.
When sensual vampire Derek Ashmore rescues her from dangerous hunters, she tumbles head over heels for him. Not a wise decision since werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies.
Meeting her caring mate-to-be Brendan Kelly has her further questioning the future. Regardless, her life has forever changed now that she’s met not one, but two men who pull at her heartstrings…
Until next week,
Many moons ago, or at least that’s how it feels, I used to do reading challenges a lot. With a huge TBR list, there was something magical about seeing what topics were presented each month and digging through my books to see what fit where.
These days, I’ve basically followed what my Kindle suggests to me. That’s cool sometimes, but it doesn’t give me that same excitement as the reading challenges did before.
So, my reading goal for this year is at least 24 books, which might not be a lot compared to some people, but that would be four more books than I read last year.
This year, I’m following Roni Loren’s The Read Wide Challenge. There are plenty of books in many genres that I’ve had, so now I’ll a solid reason to actually finish them! Hooray.
Do you enjoy reading challenges? How many books are you hoping to read this year?
Until next week,
The sixth book in the bestselling Cry Wolf series is now available at your favorite retailers.
When a wolf loves a leopard…
He’s her protector…
Caitlyn Fraser, a wereleopard who has always hated cruel werewolves, is the former prisoner turned mate of Dougal Sterling, Alpha of the Scottish pack. She’s courting jeopardy with her determination to attend the funeral of her brother’s father, since the Pack blames her for Alistair’s death. But still Dougal protects her from his wolves.
Short of allies, Dougal struggles to balance loyalty and attention between the Pack and Caitlyn. When the Pack’s stability crumbles, he’s faced with the return of his older brother, the rightful Alpha, who shirked his duty after their father’s death. However, Ewan’s challenge will be a battle to the death. Sheltering Caitlyn can only lose Dougal more friends, but he knows she’s the mate he’s longed for.
But survival takes two…
Menace lurks in every corner of the Highlands; Alistair and Ewan’s supporters and haters of shapeshifters abound. Caitlyn and Dougal must stick together, pushing back fiercely when they are attacked. Even if that puts them in mortal danger…
Add to Goodreads
Until next week,
One thing I’ve learned is how important it is for me to keep my muse fueled up. It’s pretty easy for me to switch into workaholic mode and go go go without taking time for myself. Then again, I think that’s probably true for a lot of authors. However, that’s not sustainable.
Taking the hiatus last year and focusing on myself and my health was fundamentally important. Not only did it help change my outlook on self-care, but I feel like, for one of the first times in my life, I truly understood the importance of having balance. I also realized how much I enjoyed writing once the pressure was off.
I had a few weeks where I was busy and out-of-town where I was overcome with an overwhelming need to put words down on the page. That was a magical moment that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. Before re-evaluating things, I let myself get bogged down with the business and marketing side of writing biz that my passion for writing was smothered. However…
This year, I’m taking steps to keep that balance in mind. Here’s what I’m doing:
- – Prioritizing writing, even if it’s a few hundred words, no matter what needs to happen.
- – Meal planning to keep my body fueled with healthy food.
- – Journaling for my mental and creative health.
- – Using two planners, one for my business and the other for my personal life. The personal planner has daily things to accomplish that’s just for fun (like reading and video games). Planning fun sounds strange, but if it works!
- – Exercising to keep my body and mind healthy.
- – And finally, making time to do something fun with my hubby and family.
What are you doing to keep yourself mentally/physically/emotionally in good shape this year?
Until next week,
2018 was something else. I’m happy that it’s in the past. I accomplished some great things, but I’m so excited for this new year. It feels like there’s so much potential, and no, I’m not just saying that.
In December, I stumbled upon Heart Breathings and started devouring the YouTube videos. (They’re really good.) There was a planning/productivity course detailing Sarra Cannon’s method of quarterly goal planning. I wasn’t sure about taking it, so I waited until the last minute to make a decision before taking the leap. That course really changed my outlook on goals and planning.
A couple things I learned, for instance, was breaking goals down into quarters makes it easier for someone to accomplish their goals. She also discusses the difference between a goal and a project. A goal is focused on an outcome while a project is something that can be broken down into tasks.
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been utilizing what I learned and getting so much accomplished, even with it being a holiday season. Now that it’s January 2nd and the holidays are over. I’m excited to see how productive I’ll be and how much more balanced my life will be with a plan in place.
Until next time,